Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Rogues a-plenty at UN General Assembly

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'The door is open for dialogue with Madrid,' says Carles Puigdemont

Read more

THE DEBATE

Iran's rebuttal: Tehran answers Trump and Netanyahu

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Kurdish independence referendum: What impact on the region?

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Iraqi Kurdistan FM: 'We are determined to go ahead' with independence vote

Read more

FOCUS

Are universities in Pakistan becoming a breeding ground for terrorism?

Read more

ENCORE!

Film show: 'It', 'Loveless', 'Nothing to Hide' and 'The Party'

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Save the Children CEO on Rohingya crisis: 'Children are being shot at'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

British PM expected to make offer to Brussels in upcoming speech

Read more

FOCUS

Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2009-12-16

When Spain's vineyards turn to dust bowl

Fifteen years ago, the rolling slopes of Andalusia were covered in vines, producing the grapes used in the sweet Moscatel wine. But little by little farmers have left the region. Like more than 30% of the land in Spain, Axarquia is under threat from desertification.

FRANCE 24's correspondent in Madrid, Adeline Percept, explains how desertification is blighting the Spanish landscape, while rural economy expert Amanda Cheesley, live from Brussels, takes a look at the threat to other parts of the continent.

 

Fifteen years ago, vines used to grow on the plains of the mountains in Andalusia, producing the grapes used in the sweet Moscatel wine. But little by little farmers have left the region. Like more than 30% of the land in Spain, Axarquia is under threat from desertification.

José Antonio Marin-Marin is one of the few people to continue growing crops here. “The landscape changes a little bit more every day. Even the almond and olive trees are completely dry! It still isn’t raining, and we’re in winter!”, he says.

Since the summer it has only rained twice here – 35 millimetres in total. The lack of water has made José-Antonio change his crops: “An avocado tree needs 100 litres of water a day in summer. And at the moment, since it doesn’t rain, I have to continue watering them! So, in the field, I’ve changed the crops. We plant young mango trees. When they are grown, we will cut the avocado trees down. Simply because mango trees guzzle a lot less water.”

José Antonio is obliged to grow more tropical fruits and to grow other crops in greenhouses. Here, he’s come to the same conclusion as Greenpeace’s scientists: climate change also helps parasites to breed. “Because of the lack of water and the excessive heat, the tuta parasite from Peru breeds very well – the whole year – in southern Spain,” he says.

Two hundred kilometres away, the Tabernas Desert has the highest temperatures in Europe. In the foothills of those plateaus, almost all the arable land has been abandoned. “The desert is moving north, that’s clear,” says Paco Gonzalez, a farmer. “The land here used to be farmed. Today, there’s a bit of livestock farming but no crops.”

Andalusia was the first Spanish region to introduce a plan in 2007 to tackle climate change. Gloria Guzman is one of the scientists in charge of evaluating the effects of climate change. “There are a lot of regions where we’ve seen a lot of social tension over water in the last few years. In Andalusia, there’s already not enough water for everyone! Do you think that the Pyrenees are going to halt this process? No! After Spain and Portugal, these problems are going to spread to the rest of Europe, that’s clear,” she says.

Thanks to the use of natural fertilisers among other techniques, Gloria’s team has shown how olive growers can reduce the fossil energy they use by 80%. But according to her, the region’s efforts will be useless without the introduction of radical measures at a world level.
 

By Adeline PERCEPT

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2017-09-20 Asia-pacific

Are universities in Pakistan becoming a breeding ground for terrorism?

In recent years in Pakistan, a growing number of students from prestigious institutions have taken part in terrorist attacks. Unlike students from madrassas, which are under...

Read more

2017-09-19 Americas

Rio mired in economic crisis a year after hosting Olympics

A state of "financial calamity" was declared in Rio de Janeiro just before it hosted the August 2016 Olympic Games. Salaries for public servants went unpaid and funding was...

Read more

2017-09-18 Asia-pacific

Rohingyas crowd into makeshift camps in Bangladesh after fleeing Burma

On the border between Burma and Bangladesh, the exodus of Rohingya people continues. In less than a month, more than 400,000 of them have crossed the border into neighbouring...

Read more

2017-09-15 Africa

Violent youth gangs spread terror in Abidjan

In Ivory Coast, violent youth gangs are spreading terror across the economic capital Abidjan. For several weeks now, these groups of delinquents - some as young as ten - have...

Read more

2017-09-14 Middle East

War in Yemen: Are Western weapons being used against civilians?

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of Arab states waging war in Yemen to overthrow the Houthi rebels, a pro-Iran Shiite militia which controls the...

Read more